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Twitter amends policies to exclude adult content, censors LGBTI terms in the process

Bisexual and transsexual are among the terms Twitter deemed offensive

Twitter amends policies to exclude adult content, censors LGBTI terms in the process

Twitter is under fire for reportedly censoring LGBTI terms in the process of restricting adult content on the platform.

In a blog post titled Clarifying The Twitter Rules posted on Friday, 3 November, the company presented detailed information on what type of behavior could get users banned.

‘Online behavior continues to evolve and change, and at Twitter, we have to ensure those changes are reflected in our rules in a way that’s easy to adhere to and understand. Today, we’re publishing a new version of the Twitter Rules to clarify our policies and how we enforce them. While the fundamentals of our policies and our approach have not changed, this updated version presents our rules with more details and examples,’ the company wrote.

‘In the weeks ahead, we’ll launch separate pages for each of our policies to provide even more context about what each policy covers and our rationale for enforcement.’

The company listed the following topics as areas where the biggest updates have occurred: abusive behavior, self-harm, spam and related behaviors, and graphic violence and adult content.

How this affects Twitter’s LGBTI community

While it’s good that Twitter is cracking down on abusive and harmful behavior as well as spam, in the process of monitoring adult content, the company censored hashtags such as #bisexual.

Another term Twitter cracked down on is transsexual.

‘Censoring such terms because of what they are is wrong in all ways I believe in
however: it seems, from a developer perspective, that they “censored” it out of SFW [Safe For Work] context, because the hashtag is flooded with porn bots and NSFW [Not Safe For Work] pictures,’ says Bison, a 33-year-old from Germany. Bison noticed the censorship of these terms early on after Twitter released its update.

It is worth noting that when searching #bisexual, ‘top’ posts appear, but ‘news,’ ‘photos,’ and ‘videos’ give you the following message:

‘Bisexuals have historically been hypersexualised and associated with porn and promiscuity. Every bi activist knows the problems of trying to search for bi content on the web – some public wifi systems block it altogether, even when it’s nothing to do with sex, because bisexual is seen as a dodgy word in itself,’ Kate Harrad from The Bisexual Index tells GSN.

‘This is why Twitter needs to be very sensitive to any filtering that reduces access to bi content, and very aware of the problem of bisexual erasure.’

‘I saw this morning that bisexual was blocked and I checked myself and found that bisexual was blocked in photos, videos and news. I got curious and so looked up other terms and noticed transsexual is also blocked in a similar fashion,’ Sophia Banks, a queer trans woman, tells GSN.

‘Obviously it’s outrageous to block a term like bisexual. It’s a sexuality. Not a fetish.’

‘How is bisexual a slur? Because that’s what Twitter is saying. I know they are cracking down on porn but I can’t say I ever really associated the term bisexuality with porn. It feels incredibly problematic and bigoted to erase a sexuality of so many off of Twitter like this. As a bi trans woman I don’t see how censoring bisexual people like this was anything but erasure. It’s censoring a term for sexuality. Not a slur.’

‘Now, I can understand perhaps blocking terms like shemale and tranny. I don’t necessarily like those terms. But… lots of trans women do reclaim them and many. So that’s a bit of a problem in censorship.’


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